Hewlett-Packard says it intends to improve its standing in a number of key business areas in the coming year, and that includes rekindling once-strong ties with channel partners.
In HP's annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, the vendor lists its "need to rebuild our business relationships with our channel partners" alongside other strategic goals such as boosting R&D spending, revamping internal tracking and reporting systems and ironing out organizational inefficiencies.
Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based HP partner serving the small and medium business space, is pleased to see HP acknowledging its issues with the channel.
"What they're experiencing is a natural byproduct of outsourcing and subcontracting so many key relationship functions to third parties, in addition to a very clear disconnect and failure to listen to customers and partners while [former CEO Leo Apotheker] was in charge," Duffy told CRN. "From what I've seen so far, [HP CEO Meg Whitman] listens and then takes care of business ... they have made an effort to step up and work with us lately."
Faced with a turnaround that could take until 2016 to fully execute, HP could find it difficult to maintain partner loyalty as it looks to right the ship. HP's Whitman held a series of partner roundtable meetings this fall, but several HP partners told CRN recently the company's traditionally strong focus on the channel has waned significantly over the course of the past year.
That said, HP's inclusion of the channel in its 10-K looks like a step in the right direction.
"HP knows what they have been putting partners through for the past several quarters, and I do believe they are making it a priority," Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN, an enterprise-focused HP partner in Waltham, Mass., told CRN. "Putting it in an SEC filing kicks it up a notch."
HP's channel organization has been impacted by consolidation and the departure of key executives, including Frank Rauch, vice president of U.S. channels in HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking division, who left in July for a position with VMware.
Some HP partners have been shifting business to other vendors as a result of the uncertainty. "HP needs channel partners now more than ever. But certain business units, and individuals, want to take accounts direct to be more profitable and cut partners out," one HP partner told CRN in October.
PUBLISHED DEC. 28, 2012